Kelsey Wolff wants to strengthen startup tools to increase jobs in Nanaimo

Startup Nanaimo, one of the newest additions to the Startup Canada Communities program, will be featured on November 26th, at the 2014 Startup Canada Day on the Hill, with the support of CANARIE.

During Day on the Hill, Startup Nanaimo’s leader, Kelsey Wolff will represent Nanaimo’s entrepreneurs in the Capital, meeting with Members of Parliament, Ministers, Senators and Senior Government Officials. Kelsey will also meet with her counterparts from other Startup Communities from across Canada and will present her progress over the last 12 months to conference delegates, showcasing the impact of entrepreneur-led economic development initiatives at the local level connected nationally through technology like

We had the opportunity to sit down with Kelsey to hear about some of the early progress of Startup Nanaimo and what she hopes to achieve at Startup Canada Day on the Hill.

SC: Kelsey, tell us about yourself and why are you passionate about building your Startup Community?

KW: My name is Kelsey Wolff and I am the co-founder of Startup Nanaimo. I believe it is imperative to the sustainability of our community to build our entrepreneurial ecosystem and increase the number of startups and jobs in our community. Without this focus, we become stagnate as a community–our growth will diminish, our youth will leave, and our community will no longer be sustainable.

SC: What have been some of your highlights and your impact over the last 12 months in growing your Startup Community?

KW: The various organizations in our community have started to collaborate and work together. We need their collaboration in order to move forward together as a community. It also makes us more efficient as a community by reducing the duplication of efforts.  Startup Nanaimo has also made organizations and entrepreneurs more actionable and more daring to take risks because they know there is a supportive network there for them every step of the way.

SC: How has becoming involved in your Startup Community helped to benefit you personally?

KW: When I first co-founded Startup Nanaimo, I was completing a dual Masters at Vancouver Island University. Recently I’ve become the Community Manager of SquareOne, a technology incubator and co-working space. Both my work with Startup Nanaimo and SquareOne align and complement one another because they are both focused on building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nanaimo.

SC: How has being involved with the Startup Canada Communities program helped your community? What have been the greatest benefits?

KW: The initiatives from other Startup Communities have been really helpful to spark ideas or test the initiatives in Nanaimo. Startup Canada Communities raises the collaboration efforts to a larger scale which has created really  inspiring initiatives in some of the communities. Also, the support of the Startup Canada team has motivated our leaders to keep pushing forward. The program makes you feel united and supported from East to West across Canada because you’re all working towards the same goal.

SC: What is your vision for the future of Startup Communities and Startup Canada in the long term?

KW: Similar to other communities, Nanaimo has an aging demographic. By building our entrepreneurial ecosystem, we can empower young leaders to begin their startup in Nanaimo or transform existing businesses in our community. We hope to reduce the ‘brain drain’ to larger urban centers by strengthening the tools of our startup resources and increasing the job opportunities in Nanaimo. We believe that a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem will help to strengthen our overall community. My vision for Startup Canada,  in the long term is for their Startup Communities program to grow and expand to more communities across Canada. We have strength in numbers and I think it will help to build a stronger and more resilient Canada.

SC: What do you hope to get out of 2014 Startup Canada Day on the Hill for your community and for Canada?

KW:  I would like to see greater recognition of the importance startups play in job creation for our country. Everyone has a role to play in this movement and we need our government to play a greater role to support startup initiatives. I also hope that we will be able to inspire more communities to join Startup Canada Communities and build our Startup Community strength. I also want to spotlight Nanaimo for our leaders and organization working together to build our Startup Community. Smaller cities can strive if we work together.  Nanaimo is a hub for creative talent and our entrepreneurs are sharing their talent and mentoring the future entrepreneurs of our community.

Join us on November 26th in Ottawa for Startup Canada Day on the Hill.

Visit to register.


Rosanne Li
Rosanne Li

Rosanne is a project and data analysis expert who volunteers on Startup Canada's Impact Measurement Team. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Rosanne is passionate about research, analysis, policy and entrepreneurship.

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